Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card – Premiere First Impression (Evil Anime-tion)
Get those toothbrushes ready, folks. It’s time for some cuteness.
Sakura and Syaoran are starting junior high school. With the Final Judgment passed, Sakura thinks school life will be quiet, but then all her cards suddenly turn blank. The mysterious new power she discovers will change how she thinks about her powers. -Manga
CVoyage: Well, it’s the first official one of these, so let’s break convention before we even have any conventions to break. Cardcaptor Sakura is going to be a very interesting subject on this site. For you see, we’re all of very different mindsets on it.
EvilBob: On the one hand, you have me. I have a history with the series and, in prep for watching this, re-watched the entire thing. And on the other hand, you have Chris, who-
CVoyage: Watched it once when I was, like, ten, and don’t remember a bloody thing about it. I love magical girl anime, but I was more of a Sailor Moon guy. Sue me. Buuut, Rila would end us if we didn’t cover this, so…
EvilBob: So here we are. Two perspectives. One that’s loaded with nostalgia and comparisons to the original-
CVoyage: And one that’s going to be entirely objective.
CVoyage: Just a fair warning. Don’t expect every one of these to be divided like this. Others will be the usual back-and-forth style, probably. Unless we figure out something better. It’s just working out the way it is with this show, in particular, because of the circumstances. So, without further ado…
Objectively speaking, this is more or less how I’d expect someone to tackle a new season of a show that’s several-years concluded. You reintroduce the familiar elements, establishing the new status quo, now that time’s passed. Then throw in the new elements that are going to make up the continuing story. This isn’t a reboot. It’s a sequel. And this first episode, back, managed to do all of those things pretty effectively. And in doing so, it set up a pretty enjoyable experience.
There is a reliance on familiarity. While they do their best to reintroduce key elements from the previous iteration of the show very seamlessly, it’s also pretty heavily banking on its audience knowing the old show. My memory of the show isn’t detailed enough to know the significance of a lot of the callbacks. So when characters do show up as being somehow relevant, “who” and “why” are questions destined to crop up. But at the same time, it never winds up being confusing. One can understand what’s going on, with relative ease. And part of the strength in this is that a lot of the episode also sees Sakura, herself, being reintroduced to familiar faces and voices along with the audience.
Among the episode’s strengths is its character interactions. Even remembering as little as I do, there’s something nostalgic about them. The show’s comedic timing, the style of its dialogue, it all feels reminiscent of anime from when I was a kid. “But you weren’t a kid that long ago!” Yeah? Well, shut up. The point is that the style’s very refreshing, yet at the same time familiar. It works well.
The star of the episode, though, is the relationship between Sakura and Syaoran. The show does a surprisingly good job, tackling the concept of a long-distance relationship, at least to the extent that a couple of kids would have to deal with the complications of one. And that is a point to bring up. Sakura and Syaoran seem to have a stronger grasp of how to handle such a relationship than most fully grown adults. That is friggin’ impressive. That said, this season brings a conclusion to that whole thing, as Syaoran is officially back to stay. And the ensuing interactions are just as adorable as you might think. Complimented by a little bit of humor, courtesy of my personal favorite character, Tomoyo. Seriously. The bit with the camera amused me to no end.
Overall, it was a cute return to the series that has gotten me interested in rewatching the original, if only so I’ll actually get the callbacks. The added buzz of geeking out over the familiarity will no doubt only enhance the experience.
In terms of how it does as a return, it basically did everything right. The art style is familiar but updated to look cleaner and crisper. All of the colors pop a lot more. He hit the nail on the head in terms of the show’s comedic timing and dialogue. It’s just like it was back then. It really is a well-realized return to the world, as if hardly any time’s actually passed since the original run.
It was really great getting to see where all of these characters from back in the day are now. And I’m looking forward to seeing how relevant they’ll be in the rest of the arc. Eriol and Yukito, in particular. She spoke to Eriol once in the episode. But when all the weird stuff started going down, she tried contacting him again and couldn’t reach him. If you know anything about him, it’s entirely possible he could be up to something. Then there’s Yukito’s inclusion. He’s basically Sakura’s guardian, now. So how will he get involved, I wonder?
As for new elements, the dream sequences were interesting. I’m really curious who that hooded… dragon… thing was. Was it another Cardcaptor? Is that thing gonna be the final boss? The second dream made it look a lot less than friendly.
And speaking of unfriendly, it’s interesting how the series never really had “villains.” Usually, they were just people testing her. Even the cards weren’t really hostile. But this episode? That new card – yes, I said new card – was definitely out to kill her. It’s starting to look like Sakura may wind up in some really serious danger, this time around. It makes you wonder if she’s going to have any new allies to go along with all this.
CVoyage: That does create a new question. The “new card” you mentioned – Gale. Was it really new?
EvilBob: Looked like it.
CVoyage: Well, it just makes me wonder a bit if it couldn’t be one of the old cards. After all, they did all turn clear after her little dream. And she clearly didn’t lose her powers like she thought she did. What if “Gale” is just an evolution of an older card?
EvilBob: It’s… possible? The cards have “evolved” before. It could be a stronger version of Windy or something. Though I doubt that’s the case, here. Like I said, the other cards were never especially violent. Plus she seemed to still have all the cards in the book. They just turned clear.
CVoyage: Which leads to the other question. If Gale was entirely new, then what does it mean that all the other cards turned clear? Could it just be her powers evolving, again? Because that’d be interesting for sure. She did get a new staff, incantation, and everything. It’s not outside the realm of possibility.
EvilBob: It’s really interesting to think about, either way.
CVoyage: Yup. So. Summary?
EvilBob: Oh yeah. Well, it has those moments in it for fans. It introduces the new normal for the series. And it’s just so freakin’ cute! How can I not say this is absolutely as Evil as… a Super Villain?
CVoyage: Yeah. It hits all the right notes, really. It has charming and witty character interactions. The art style is just a somewhat updated rendition of the classic show’s aesthetic. It manages to do a lot with old elements without being confusing to newcomers, though seasoned fans will definitely get more out of it. It’s intriguing and it manages to raise the stakes from the previous series. It’s not just effective, it’s Super Effective. But you don’t have to take our word for it.
EvilBob: If super cutesy stuff isn’t for you… well, this just isn’t going to be your season. Wait a week or two and we’ll have something for you. But in the meantime, the least cute of the things we’ve covered so far is probably his review of the Toji no Miko premiere. Maybe you wanna give that a try?
CVoyage: Pretty much, yeah. Still, I’d recommend Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card to just about anyone on storytelling merit, alone. If you think it’ll be up your alley, give it a try. It’s Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Saturdays at 8:00pm EST.
EvilBob: Speaking of time, that’s all that we have for today, people.
CVoyage: Thanks for reading, as always, folks. Keep up the awesome.
EvilBob: And keep it classy.
CVoyage: Take care.